The leaves are turning, the nights are drawing in, the clocks have gone back and autumn has most definitely arrived. With the golden colours this season brings, comes the long, cold and dark days making us more susceptible to coughs, colds and flu. It’s the time of year when we really need to take extra care of ourselves to stay healthy and happy. Your immune system is about to be challenged so treat it with care!
Our immune system is incredibly complex. It must be firing on all cylinders to perform well and destroy anything that threatens the body. Give it some support by looking after yourself so that it can fight disease and reduce your susceptibility to the nasty seasonal viruses.
It’s important to identify the signs when your immune system needs a boost. If a few of these sound familiar it’s time to take action:
- You get more than two colds a year.
- You find it hard to really fight off an infection.
- You have taken antibiotics in the past year.
- You are prone to thrush and cystitis.
- You suffer from hay fever.
- You eat a lot of refined, processed or takeaway foods.
You are what you eat!
The immune system and the digestive system are very closely linked, so if you’re suffering from low immunity it’s worth looking at your diet. Your digestive system has a decision to make each time food or drink passes your lips, does it like it and allow it to pass through your body with ease, or does it go into attack and fight to kill it off. Be kind to your digestive system and feed it with nutrients by eating plenty of fresh produce, fruit and vegetables.
Your immune system will generally accept most foods but only has the ability to do this if you have a balance of friendly flora (good bacteria). This naturally occurs in your body and plays a key role in absorbing nutrients and regulating your immune response. The balance of friendly flora can be upset, sometimes as the result of a course of antibiotics. Taking a high quality probiotic or adding fermented food and drink into your daily regime such as sauerkraut, kefir, miso and kombucha should get the balance back on track.
Ain’t no sunshine…
Studies have shown that Vitamin D has a great effect on the immune system, with a deficiency being linked to a lowered defence against seasonal colds and flu. Sunshine is the main source of Vitamin D, something we lack during the winter months, so take a natural supplement of Vitamin D3 to give your immunity an extra boost.
Exercise increases the circulation of both the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems that pump blood and lymph fluid around our bodies. One of the main functions of lymph is to fight bacteria in the blood and both systems need to work in unison to effectively support the immune system. The circulation of lymph relies on movement so too much time sitting still could slow this process down and lower your immunity.
Manage your stress levels. When you’re under too much pressure the stress hormone cortisol is released and this has a negative impact on your immune system (take a look back at the October newsletter).
Maintaining a good sleep pattern is essential for good immunity. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep has a negative impact on our immune system, so try and factor in some early nights.
I’m now talking from my own experience. I got shingles in August which was a big wake-up call that I needed to take more care. I became overly tired over a period of time, it crept up on me, and my immune system took a hit. I recovered quickly but I have been taught a valid lesson to really listen and respond to my own body.
Kath’s tips for boosting your immune
- Prevention is better than cure! It’s a simple formula, the best you can do to support your immunity through the winter months is eat well, sleep well and exercise.
- Give yourself an extra boost and start taking a Vitamin D3 supplement now.
- If you’ve been on a course of antibiotics rebalance your good bacteria by taking a high quality probiotic.
- If you feel a cold coming on, take a Vitamin C supplement, you can take between 3g-6g daily. Your body will tell you when you’re taking enough as your bowels will loosen.
- Silver Shield (colloidal silver) is a great relief from a sore throat. Simply gargle every hour with 1 teapsonful of silver shield until your sore throat has gone. It works for me after 3 gargles.